Bradley Sharpe is the designer that brought camp into Camp. But there’s more to it. Freshly graduated from Central Saint Martins, he was included in the British Fashion Council “Class of 2020”, his creations have been everywhere this year, from Vogue’s pages to Lady Gaga’s hands. At his parent’s house, away from London’s lockdown, Bradley, was wearing a french beret tipped to the side as we’ve talked about survival, sex clubs, and, of course, the famous tent dresses.

We, as humans, are obsessed with large things (we want big cars, guns, huge houses, watches) a lot of times it is to protect us. The bigger the better. And here comes the Bradley Sharpe tent dresses, they almost feel like a protection from the world. Was that something you had in mind?

A part of my design process is being inspired by powerful, independent women. I always looked at people like Isabella Blow or Helena Bonham Carter, people that are in their own minds about who they are or who they were. These clothes are another armor for the people that know how to express themselves. And even those that don’t know how to express themselves.

Susan Sontag said about camp that a way to describe it could be to say “It is good because it’s awful” would you agree with that?

Yes. That specific quote goes well with my collection. Camp is not consistent, for example, a lot of people would think that my work is embarrassing, but some would be excited. That is what makes it interesting. But I think Susan’s essay Notes On Camp is a bit outdated now. Since then there’s been a massive normalization of Camp, we’ve seen it in massive media, everywhere.

What inspired you for this collection?

After my internship at Marc Jacobs in New York, I came back to London with absolutely no money so I started to work at a sex club. I would go to university from 8 am to 6 pm and then from 7 pm until 3 am I would work at the sex club. Survival. There, I was totally removed from outside society. I needed to be inspired by this work environment, so I started thinking about how parties evolved from the 18th-century courtship events to the sex clubs we can find nowadays.

This is when came to you this Victorian / Georgian era aesthetic?

Yes. It took me back to the 18th century when they had these big civilized parties but there was actually a lot of debauchery going on behind the scenes. This collection is the point of connection where these 2 worlds meet. While looking at new ways of forming a dress, I knew I wanted to go full camp. One week later I saw a tent and I said “that’s what we’re doing”.

For your graduate collection, a lot of material was up-cycled?

We went around the UK asking for tent poles. And especially this year when all the festivals got canceled, a lot of people didn’t need their tents.

In a year that’s been horrible, in many ways, for a lot of people, your dresses have been, one of the highlights of this year in fashion, are you happy with the success they’ve encountered?

I hated this collection before I released it because It was supposed to be so much more.
It happens with every artist. It’s very hard to achieve 100% of what you wanted to, especially when you begin. I thought I’ll never do as good as my last dress. But actually what’s coming next can only get bigger. I learned a lot, especially that I don’t need a show at all to present my collection and have an impact.

That’s true, all of the buzz we’ve seen from Central Saint Martins students were from runway shows, but not your creations. So, well done.

Exactly. Thanks!

You said while talking about Gaga wearing your dress “You are the artist I could count on to make music that would translate where I wanted to go and who I wanted to be.” Are you the person you wanted to be 10 years ago?

Yes. 100%. I am sure that little guy would be proud. I was about 13 when Gaga became big and she was wearing these origami geometric forms in Poker Face and I literally sat in class every day and would draw them on the back of my textbook. I didn’t know there was such a thing as being a designer. She made me become a fashion designer. She was the woman of the time.

Your dress would have been amazing for the Met Gala.

I know. When Gaga wore the tent dress for Billboard, they put only one pole through it, so it ended up not really looking like my tent dress. I guess they reinterpreted it in their own way. But I’m so glad I had the opportunity to work with the team.

Obviously this year, everyone was affected by lockdown and restrained somehow of their freedom but your clothes are meant to be worn out, red carpets, exhibitions, cocktails.. is there a part of you that makes you think “Fuck, why did I do this collection in 2020 ?”

It really is a dress of its time that relates to this very secluded society. It wouldn’t have had such an impact in any other year than 2020. Because it was released during this hell, it had the opportunity to be digested by the audiences in a completely new way.

In your mind, who is the person who wears Bradley Sharpe?

Girls, boys, whoever wants to make a statement and be a bit naughty. This person doesn’t really exist. When I’m designing I am putting my story out there. All my cards are laid on the table. This is what I’ve been through. I’ll just be happy if someone will want to wear them.

What are we gonna see next from Bradley Sharpe?

It is gonna be kind of a new step forward. There’s a lot of Ready-to-Wear pieces. So this time more than ever, I had to think about who is gonna wear these.

I heard about a jersey capsule collection…

Yes. In 2021. My goal is to show a collection once a year without thinking Couture or Ready-to-Wear. My collections don’t have a gender or a season attached to them. It is not about running anymore, I want to be apart of a more sustainable movement in fashion.

Do you consider yourself more as an artist or as a designer?

The artist in me is creating a collection that emulates a new way of seeing the world. I am a designer that also makes art.

What is your definition of love?

Love is unity.